Yesterday, a Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria granted an application by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, for the extradition of a Canada-based Nigerian, Emmanuel Ekhator, who is wanted in the United States for alleged criminal conducts.
Ekhator is wanted in the US over his alleged link with a group that defrauded some US law firms of about $29 million.
Justice Fatimat Nyako held that with the evidence provided by the prosecution, the court was convinced that Ekhator should be extradited to the US to stand trial on charges against him at the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
The court ordered the US Embassy and the Federal Government to perfect his travel arrangement and ensure his extradition within 15 days.
The three-count charge marked 10-244 was part of documents from the US Department of State exhibited before the court by the prosecuting lawyer, Mr. Islam Hassan of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Ekhator, who is said to be a member of a syndicate that specializes in internet fraud, is accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, involvement in mail and wire frauds and money laundering. Most of the offenses are said to attract a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.
He was said to have evaded arrest in the US last year and escaped to Nigeria. The US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was said to have placed him on its watch list.
He was found in Benin, Edo State, where he was arrested earlier this year by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
EFCC, in a supporting affidavit to the extradition application, said Ekhator, who holds a Masters degree from the University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, resided in Canada with his wife, Nkechi.
The commission described Ekhator as the arrowhead of a ring of fraudsters operating between Canada, US and the Asian Peninsula. Allegedly, Ekhator and his gang defrauded about 70 US law firms of over $29 million between August 2008 and August 2010.
EFCC said its investigation revealed that Ekhator and his gang simply contacts law firms through e-mails, posing as potential clients, claiming to be representatives of foreign companies, seeking legal representation to help negotiate and collect, on their behalf, claims and settlement in cases like real estate transaction, divorce or torts.
This article was written by Erci Ikhilae and published by The Nation on July 27, 2011.
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